Quick quiz: When reading, do you:
- read the same line over and over without realizing it?
- daydream while reading?
- mentally assemble your to-do list?
- fuss at or try to tune out your kids, who are being too loud?
- watch TV since it is on anyway?
- obsess over why you need to put on chapstick/brush your teeth/polish your toenails/take out your contacts until you finally just get up and do it?
- mentally hum a song you heard an hour ago?
- find yourself looking around the room, thinking about nothing?
- pay attention to extraneous sounds (lawn mowers, barking dogs, dripping faucets, birds, pets walking around) when you do have a quiet reading environment?
Before you laugh, please understand that I am not kidding. I do all of these and then some when I am reading. I am an incredibly distracted reader, and I always have been. Without some intervention, it would take me absolutely forever to finish a book.
Am I alone in this? I seriously doubt it. If I were a young child today, maybe I would be diagnosed as ADD or ADHD or who knows what else. When I was a child in the 80s, we hadn’t quite developed all the labels and medications for distractedness. Readers like me had to develop some coping skills. I am well-practiced in the art of minimizing the hundreds of potential daily distractions that suck my reading time away.
If you are a distracted reader, you have to try white noise while reading. I installed WhiteNoise on my iPhone a couple of years ago, and I can’t imagine reading without it. I use it at the gym to drown out the music (so I can read on the treadmill). I use it at home to drown out the TV, my kids, my dogs, basically everything, while I am reading. White noise helps me read faster, for a longer time period, and helps me really focus on the book I’m reading. I hardly ever read without it anymore.
If you do not have a smart phone, there are also white noise machines available (I know Target has several varieties). Anything you can hook headphones into will work great. My white noise app is available in the iPhone App store. It is by TMSoft and has 40 “ambient” sounds including crackling fire, purring kitten, thunderstorm, extreme rain, and train.
My favorite sound by far is “airplane,” which makes me feel like I am inside an airplane cabin. The pay version is a $1.99 download. There is also a free version of WhiteNoise called “WhiteNoise Lite” which features 11 ambient sounds, including airplane.